10 Tips To Keep A Homebased Business Looking Professional

If you're planning to open your home to business clients and customers, here are 10 tips for putting forth a professional image.

It may have all the comforts of home but if you want to project a professional image to your clientele, a home-based business needs to be kept ship-shape 24/7. Here are 10 tips for tidying up.

CLEAN UP THAT YARD

If you were visiting a home daycare business for the first time and saw a front yard with overgrown grass, weeds running rampant, and numerous plops of dog poop, would you feel comfortable leaving your child there for the day? If the first impression of your business is that you don't know how to take care of things, it will take a lot to convince your customers that you will be conscientious about handling their taxes, catering their parties or styling their hair. Hire yourself some gardeners or make it a family project to make the yard presentable"┬Žand to keep it that way!

ADEQUATE SIGNAGE

Newcomer clients tend to be more cautious about businesses operated out of private residences as opposed to those with an actual storefront or office suite. I recall the advice that a number of associates gave a friend of mine when she announced that she was moving her travel agency to her spare bedroom. Because her house number was obscured by low-hanging branches and she had no exterior sign identifying the company, prospective clients had no idea where she was. As a result, her business lost its credibility and collapsed within 8 months. Assuming that your house is in a neighborhood zoned for commercial enterprises, don't make the process of finding you a guessing game. Invest in easy to read house numbers and a high quality sign announcing your presence in the neighborhood.

SEPARATE ENTRY

If feasible, keep your residence and business operations as separate from one another as possible. This may involve the expense of remodeling in installing a separate entrance to your place of business. The alternative is to set up your working quarters in a part of the house that won't require your clients to traipse down hallways, up and down stairs and past your children's bedrooms.

KEEP DOORS CLOSED

If you don't have a picture-perfect family of neat freaks, make it a ritual to keep bedroom doors closed during business hours and appointments with clients.

ACCESSORIZE!

Depending on your decor, purchase desk accessories such as an attractive blotter, vertical file rack, business card holder, etc. Even if you are only operating off of your dining room table on Wednesdays, these portable props will enhance your image as a professional. This will also get you in the habit of having everything close at hand for a client meeting instead of having to jump up every 5 minutes to go search the house for a pen, paper clips, or your receipt book.



AMBIANCE

Even a garage beauty salon can be spruced up by draping fabric (or colorful sheets) to conceal tool racks, lawn equipment, storage boxes, etc. Various size throw-rugs can add more coordinating color as well as conceal unsightly carpet stains or holes. Use slip covers to improve the look of worn furniture.

If your business is related to the travel industry, hang posters of exotic destinations. Invest in inexpensive plastic racks and stock them with colorful brochures and travel books. Some home businesses even light candles or simmer potpourri to give their working space the cozy aroma of vanilla or freshly baked cookies.

HIRE A CLEANING SERVICE

Budget into your expenses a weekly or twice weekly professional cleaning service. Well dusted and sparkling maintenance of your home office will not only make your customers feel comfortable but will also keep you at ease in knowing that harmful germs brought on by the additional foot traffic in your home are being kept at bay.

STOW THE PETS AND THEIR CHEW TOYS

Much as you adore Fido and Fluffy, not all of your clients are pet lovers. I recall an incident when a relative was trying to establish an interior decorating service out of her condo. Things seemed to be going well until her Basset ambled in with a well gnawed, saliva-infused butcher bone and dropped it on the client's carpet samples. Speaking of toys, get your kids in the habit of picking up after themselves as well as respecting your work hours.

HEED THOSE HAZARDS

A professional home office is also one that is free of potential hazards. Clean up precarious stacks of books, supplies and boxes that could topple on an unsuspecting guest. Anchor loose floor runners that could contribute to a slip and fall. Replace broken stepping stones that could cause a sprained ankle. Do you have messy coils of electrical cords or, worse, stretched cords that require stepping over in order to cross the room? Your immediate family may have grown accustomed to navigating these homegrown dangers but your customers are new to this turf. Don't give them an excuse to sue you if an accident occurs.

STASH THE BUNNY SLIPPERS

While one of the big attractions of a home-based business is the fact that every day can be "Casual Friday," it goes without saying that you are still providing a professional service and, as such, should look the part. Accordingly a bathrobe and bunny slippers don't constitute proper business attire. Even if your clientele is by appointment only, never rule out the possibility of the occasional drop-in, especially if you have a posted sign. Always have a professional ensemble cleaned, pressed and ready to jump into at a moment's notice. The tidier the complete packaging of your business image, the more enthusiastic and confident your clients will be to do business with you.

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